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OUR CARIBBEAN: The big question for likely January 21 poll

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: The big question for likely January 21 poll

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There can be no serious disagreement that Barbados is struggling to cope with very challenging fiscal management and economic development problems.
Even some traditional supporters of the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) readily concede this argument to the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Even, that is, as more diehard Dems prefer pointing to today’s globalized economic recession that has President Barack Obama and his Republican opponents desperately searching for compromise solutions.
In Barbados, as I see it, any talk about “compromise”, in whatever form, could be dismissed as sheer political heresy within weeks of a new general election for the 30-member House of Assembly.
The BLP’s leader Owen Arthur, a former three-term prime minister and respected economist, is showing a brave face in offering alternatives to fiscal management policies being pursued by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s first-term administration.
Put that down to good, competitive political strategies with eyes on the coming elections, the date of which could well be announced within a week.
The reality is that at this stage, actual changes in fiscal policies and management of vital revenue-earning sectors such as the tourism industry would simply have to await an electoral victory for either party – and that’s the rub!
In this CARICOM member state which has traditionally given the two dominant parliamentary parties no less than two consecutive terms, there can be no certainty at this time that the electorate would restrict the incumbent to just one term.
The guessing game becomes even more difficult when the incumbent heading into the coming election happens to be the party of the nation’s Father Of Independence – a National Hero, respected philosopher and founding leader of the regional economic integration movement CARICOM – Errol Walton Barrow. They still fondly refer to him as the “Dipper”.
The big question is whether, for the first time, voters would restrict the party of “Dipper” Barrow to just one term because of economic, political and personality factors during the current Dems administration first headed by late Prime Minister David Thompson and then by his deputy Stuart.
One respected political scientist has shared his feeling that based on a poll a few months ago, he would not be surprised if Stuart ends up as the first Prime Minister of a one-term Government.  
Time will tell; and we do not have much time left to get the answer with a three-week spell of campaigning that could end significantly, some say fortuitously, with a parliamentary election likely for Monday, January 21, 2013 – coinciding with Errol Barrow Day.
If this scenario proves correct, I can well hear the clamour from the Dems’ camp: “Cast one for the Dipper!”
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.